Friday 31 May 2019

WATCH: Oscar Jerome - 'Gravitate' (live)

I am completely adoring this new live video from Oscar Jerome for his brand new track Gravitate. The new track follows a string of support dates with Kamasi Washington and the live video shows Oscar alongside Ezra Collective member Joe Armon-Jones and members of Kokoroko performing the track in the studio. Following up recent single Misty Head / Sunny Street, the track is his first release through Caroline International, who signed him almost instantaneously after catching him playing at this year's SXSW Festival

Holding the torch for London's thriving jazz scene and following in the recent steps of Bombay Bicycle Club frontman Jack's project Mr. Jukes (whose album I love) the new video features a stunning guitar solo, set across percussion, keys and harmonies, the perfect backdrop. Discussing the track, Oscar explains that "it pays homage to a lot of the pioneers of the British broken beats genre as well as a lot of my soul, jazz and rock influences. The subject matter is both cosmic and personal. I reference a lot of imagery of the early life of a star in space as well as ideas of individuality and self-acceptance." 

With the release of the new track, Oscar has just announced a 15-date EU tour across October and November, including London's Heaven on November 19th. Full dates and tickets here.

Download/stream the track here.

Follow Oscar Jerome - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Thursday 30 May 2019

LISTEN: Bess Atwell - 'Big Blue'

A quick post this evening to share that I am in awe of just how gorgeous Bess Atwell's new EP Big Blue is. Recorded during four days on a boat on the Thames, the EP was produced by Giles Barrett (Johnny Flynn, Marika Hackman). Following her debut album Hold Your Mind, released back in 2016, the new EP joins her love of folk music with indie rock influences from the like of The National, Fleet Foxes, Lucy Dacus and Soccer Mommy.

Talking about the EP, Bess explains that it "explores conflicting themes on identity, romanticism and reality. I have an amazing full-time band now who worked on these songs with me outside of the studio and so, when the time came to record, we just went into the studio and essentially played the songs." 

With a few festival appearances on the way, Bess plays a headline tour this October. Full dates and tickets here.

7th October: Bodega, Nottingham
8th October: Broadcast, Glasgow
10th October: Omeara, London
11th October: Soup Kitchen, Manchester
12th October: Louisiana, Bristol
13th October: Hope and Ruin, Brighton

Follow Bess Atwell - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Wednesday 29 May 2019

LISTEN: Jordan Mackampa - 'Under'

Jordan Mackampa is back with his gorgeous soulful vocals (and backing vocals too), a lovely bass-line and acoustic guitar in tow on new track Under. Thought I've been spotting his name on line-ups, playlists and such for a couple of years now this is my first time listening to Jordan and I'm really digging the track. 

Talking about the new track, he explains that "Under is about falling for someone you only met briefly on a train journey, but feeling as if they could be the new love of your life, without hardly knowing them. But, within that journey home/work, you've let your mind drift off to who they might be as a person, what kind of food they like, tv shows you could watch together basically imagining your whole life with them, whilst understanding that none of that will happen, if you don't go over to them & ask them out on a date, before they leave."

Jordan has just announced a run of shows for later in the year across Europe, with a show at London's Village Underground on 25th November. He's also performing at Bushstock on 15th June alongside some incredible artists. Check out the full dates and grab tickets here.

Follow Jordan Mackampa - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Tuesday 28 May 2019

LISTEN: Pelicandy - 'White Sky'

Time for some new music from London alt-pop duo Pelicandy. White Sky is their second release of the year and I'm getting some Foster The People and Friendly Fires vibes from it - definitely a good thing. Synths and drum machines galore, it's a gloriously breezy track sure to get audiences up on their feet (if they aren't already, of course) and tapping those toes. Talking about the track, vocalist TC Beecham states that "White Sky is about realising the ability to focus and reframe your own thoughts and perception of reality. Choosing what world you want to live in depending more on your mind-set than your surrounding environment, it's like a superpower that anyone can learn." Listen below!

Follow Pelicandy - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Monday 27 May 2019

LISTEN: Winnie Raeder - 'I Wear A Ghost'

Fresh from releasing her utterly mesmerising debut single Don't You Dare a few weeks back, Winnie Raeder is back. I Wear A Ghost, a co-write with RØMANS, is her second single and it's displaying those gorgeously heartbreaking vocals.

Talking about the process of creating the track, Winnie explains that "you have baggage from previous times in your life that will manifest today, in the present, because where you have been in your life makes you. It shapes you." Talking about co-writing the new track with RØMANS, she goes on to say "it felt like it was already written. We had a conversation and the song just happened so naturally. We were just two people talking about life, talking about how things feel and how it feels to be human."

As well as a slot of the upcoming Bushstock Festival on 15th June, Winnie plays her first, sold out, headline show at St Pancras Old Church on 3rd June.

Follow Winnie Raeder - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Friday 24 May 2019

LISTEN: Wovoka Gentle - 'Tell 'Em, Makoto!'

A little (very) late sharing this one, but here's the latest from London trio Wovoka Gentle (William J. Stokes and twins Imogen and Ellie Mason). Tell 'Em, Makoto! is taken from their debut album Start Clanging Cymbals, which is due for release on 7th June via Nude Records. With inspiration from the psychedelic sounds of the late 60s, the trio use sampling, sound manipulation and classic instrumentation to create some really unique sounds. New track Tell 'Em, Makoto! is impressive in its vastness and variety.

Will explains that the track is inspired by the book Culture Care by Makoto Fujimura. "He talks about Mahalia Jackson and how people like her exist on the periphery of influence; they exert influence on people who are actual influencers, and that's the role of art in society. And Mahalia Jackson is a good allegory for him. She was next to Martin Luther King during a speech that was flagging and she shouted to him, 'Tell that about the dream, Martin!' And that's how the 'I Have A Dream' speech started."

Wovoka Gentle launch their debut album Start Clanging Cymbals at London's Corsica Studios on 5th June - tickets here.

Follow Wovoka Gentle - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Thursday 23 May 2019

LISTEN: Jolé - 'Picture Perfect'

Jolé, AKA London-via-Brighton singer-songwriter Josh Oliver, has recently released Picture Perfect. It follows in the steps of previous singles Seldom Seen and All I Need, Josh continues to wear his heart on his sleeve in this track, with exposed vocals creating a real intimacy, while gorgeous strings flip this intimacy on its head. Josh explains that Picture Perfect is "about appreciating what you have in a relationship, it's a personal message to thank that person for what they do/have done for you. I wrote this as a type of apology, to let someone know they are acknowledged and needed."

Jolé releases his debut self-titled album on May 24th - catch the album launch show at London's The Waiting Room on May 28th. Tickets here.

Follow Jolé - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

LISTEN: Joe Hicks - 'Hollow'

Joe Hicks is one of the kindest people and musicians I had the pleasure of meeting during my time studying in Oxford, it's always a joy to check out his new music. We first met at the end of 2014 when I was volunteering at the local Oxjam Festival and watching Adam Barnes' set (Joe was playing guitar with Adam) - across my three years in Oxford I saw Adam and Joe in various places including a church, school, cafe, house and theatre and it was lovely to finally hear some of Joe's solo music when he released Best Clothes around two years ago. A string of single releases later, Joe has spent the last couple of year performing around the country, often at Sofar Sounds shows. His latest single Hollow is another slice of relatable and vulnerable songwriting, exclaiming "I don't wanna feel the weight of all of this, on me. I've taken all that I can take, I knew I'd break, eventually." Check it out below - it also features on the latest CMAT playlist update!

You can (and should!) catch Joe playing alongside Adam Barnes at three UK shows this June...

20th June: Jericho Tavern, Oxford
22nd June: St. James Wine Vaults, Bath
24th June: Rescue Rooms, Nottingham

Follow Joe Hicks - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Wednesday 22 May 2019

LISTEN: MarthaGunn - 'Love & Emotion'

It's that (glorious) time again - time for a new MarthaGunn track. I absolutely love these guys - they're come across as some of the sweetest people in music, hardworking, incredibly talented and they fill me with some serious hair envy. Brand new track Love & Emotion, released yesterday, is the second single of their current campaign, following up Saint Cecilia. Sharing the track online, the band's lead singer Abi explained that "I wasn't prepared for what this song was telling me, my sub conscious spoke for me a long time before my conscious mind could pull away. Love & Emotion had a powerful voice, one I couldn't ignore, one I was just facilitating."

If you like what you're hearing, you can catch MarthaGunn at Omeara in London on 13th June as part of Communion Music's SWITCH evening. They're also playing a set at the label's festival Bushstock on 15th June (I am crossing my fingers I can catch this while volunteering at the festival!)

Follow MarthaGunn - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

LISTEN: Charlie Cunningham - 'Bite'

With a new record on the way in just a couple of weeks, Charlie Cunningham recently shared Bite, the fourth track to be taken from the album. Sink In, Don't Go Far and the album's title track Permanent Way have already racked up over 5 million streams in the last couple of months. The new track was recorded during sessions in LA with producer Rodaidh McDonald (The XX, King Krule) and it showcases what audiences have come to love from Charlie - gorgeously vulnerable vocals sit across slightly Nick Mulvey-esque guitar playing to create something that is quite magical. Mesmerising, even.

Charlie is an incredible live act, you should most definitely get yourself along to one of his upcoming live dates. Full list of shows and tickets available here, with some UK shows in November.

2nd Nov:  Redgrave Theatre, Bristol
3rd Nov:  City Varieties Music Hall, Leeds
4th Nov: Sage Gateshead (Hall 2), Gateshead
6th Nov: RNCM Concert Hall (Hall 2), Manchester
7th Nov: Holywell Music Room, Oxford
8th Nov: The Old Market, Brighton
10th Nov: Liverpool Philharmonic Hall 2, Liverpool
11th Nov: Oran Mor, Glasgow
12th Nov: Button Factory, Dublin

Follow Charlie Cunningham - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Tuesday 21 May 2019

LISTEN: Annabel Allum - 'You Got It Good'

"What if I told you this is how it's meant to be?" 

Really digging this new track from Annabel Allum - You Got It Good is the first single to be taken from a forthcoming 6-track EP, due for release this Autumn via London label Killing Moon. She's been busy making a name for herself with her trademark punk sound for the past few years, opening for the likes of Nadine Shah and Beth Ditto, performing at The Great Escape, Reading and SXSW festivals and gaining support from DIY, The Independent and BBC Radio 1. 

Annabel describes the source of inspiration for the new track... "I wrote this song after a friend came to me in a very low state. This is the conversation I had with them. Sometimes we need to go through hardship to grow as people, and understand ourselves & the world around us better. To adapt & learn from negative situations allows us to appreciate life more."

Follow Annabel Allum - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Monday 20 May 2019

WATCH: Honey Moon - 'If I Could Only Dream' (live session)

"complete with drum machine and homely botanical surroundings"

Surely the best possible set-up for a live session video? Those lovely crooners Honey Moon have shared a live performance of their recent single If I Could Only Dream. Since being sent their track (Why Do You Think You're So) Special? to review last year these guys have stolen my heart and I'm adoring this session and wanted to share! Catch the chaps live tomorrow evening in London opening for Trudy and the Romance at Oslo Hackney. 

Follow Honey Moon - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

LISTEN: Dizzy - 'Twist'

It's been just over a year since I was first introduced to Dizzy. A friend encouraged me to go along to their set at The Great Escape festival - I knew nothing about them, what sort of music it was, just the name, but I went along and absolutely loved it. Their debut album Baby Teeth was released a few months later and quickly became one of my favourite albums of the year. Working at HMV at the time, I loved playing it in store and getting some colleagues to fall for the record as much as I had. The band is made up of brothers Charlie, Alex and Mackenzie Spencer and their neighbour Katie Munshaw who have been making music together through high school - there is something incredibly endearing and loveable about the group. The critics agree - they received the Juno Award for Best Alternative Album back in Canada. I'm really excited to hear that they're back, with new single Twist being the lead track from an upcoming EP due later this Summer via Communion Records.

Talking in a mini documentary video about the new track which you can check out below, Katie describes that the album had been written straight out of high school, meaning that there was quite a length between writing the tracks and when they were released and audiences were able to connect with them. With new tracks on the way which were written in the past few months, the band are clearly raring to release them. Katie explains that while "Baby Teeth was written about bedrooms, parking lots, restaurants and movie theatres, the new stuff is coming from a well of travelling and touring. Twist is really about missing someone so badly that you see them places and get really excited, and then realise it's not them. It's about the hold someone can have over you even after they've left your life."

They've just finished up their first headline tour back home but fear not, they're coming to England very soon with a few shows - not to be missed! Tickets here.

29th May: Rough Trade, Bristol
31st May: The Eagle Inn, Manchester
1st June: All Points East x Gentlemen of the Road, London
2nd June: Notting Hill Arts Club, London

Follow Dizzy - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Thursday 16 May 2019

LISTEN: Cousin Kula - 'Stacked'

Bristol based 6-piece Cousin Kula have recently shared Stacked, the second track from the forthcoming second EP, due later this year. Combining psych-pop, jazz and electronic pop, the track was lyrically inspired by singer Elliot's Mum going through a divorce. Band mate Douglas explains that "although it's a song to his mum post divorce, I hear its message as being quite positive and hopeful, like: 'you've got it all stacked up against you, but I back you to come through it all on top." 

Originally coming together over a shared love for a variety of genres from pop and psych through to prog and disco, the members found themselves living together in Bristol with a rehearsal room in their basement, quickly becoming one of the tightest bands on the Bristol circuit and creating a name for them with them energetic live performances.

You can catch the band at the following festivals...

24th May: Dot to Dot, Manchester
25th May: Dot to Dot, Bristol
26th May: Dot to Dot, Nottingham
27th July: Farm Festival, Bruton
17th August: TRUE Fest, Hay on Wye

Follow Cousin Kula - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Wednesday 15 May 2019

WATCH: China Bears - 'Stay For Good'

With a sound sitting somewhere along the lines of Blaenavon and influences including The National, Dry The River and The Maccabees, Buckinghamshire based quartet China Bears are back with the video for their latest single Stay For Good. It is a punchy indie anthem with some pretty emotive lyrics... "the less I know love the less it hurts". The track is the first single they've released through Fierce Panda Records (a band / label match made in heaven based on those names!) and it is taken from a forthcoming EP which they'll be releasing in Summer as the label celebrates its 25th birthday.

Originally forming in Somerset in 2015, China Bears are twin brothers Ivan (guitar/vocals) and Frazer (guitar) with James (bass) and Dean (drums) joining the band at university in Guildford later that year. With a few self-released singles under their belt they've had a lot of radio support and have opened for the likes of Gengahr, To Kill A King and The Big Moon along the way. Check out the new video below...

Follow China Bears - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

WATCH: Gia Margaret - 'Birthday'

This track has been sitting in my list of things to write about for just over a month so it's probably about time that I got around to it. So without further ado.... here's the new (ish) video for Birthday from Gia Margaret. The track is taken from her 2018 debut album There's Always Glimmer, which is getting a full release outside of Northern America on May 24th via Dalliance Recordings. 

Having played guitar and piano growing up, Gia has been writing and performing music for years, inspired and informed by the likes of Nick Drake and The Roches. Working on demos and an online series of covers, Gia took her time to work on the album, self-producing and releasing it last year. The record brings together tracks from Gia's archive of material, with home recordings of Groceries and In Normal Ways making the cut, emphasising the homegrown nature of the release. The tracks explore themes of anxiety, depression and alienation, but hint towards hope, echoed by the album's title.

Gia supports the release of the album with a run of shows - including a current Europe support tour with Novo Amor, with whom she released singles No Fun and Lucky For You earlier in the year (listen here!) She'll be heading back to the UK in September for End of the Road Festival and her first run of headline UK dates. All the dates and tickets here.

Follow Gia Margaret - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Tuesday 14 May 2019

LISTEN: Pale Moon - 'Dust Of Days'

Better late than never with this one I think! I'm finally getting around to sharing Dust of Days, the recently released EP from Icelandic duo Pale Moon. The band is Árni (who, among other bands, worked with Of Monsters and Men on their debut album) and Natasha, a singer-songwriter originally from Russia. First up - as I've said before, it's kind of nuts that a band from Iceland found the blog and want me to write about their music... the power of the internet!

While Árni declares "I just want to make music and nothing else" and he has been playing in bands for much of his life, Natasha let music take a back seat and headed to Barcelona to study fashion. The duo met in Barcelona, deciding on a month long trip to Mexico to record some demos of Natasha's tracks. The three tracks that make up the EP explore different sounds and themes, coming together to create a really strong first release. Lead track Exile proves its worth as single material, being the punchiest of the three with stand-out harmonious choral sections. Once they've pulled you in with the  more rock-y opener, Waiting for the sun and Everything Is Alright bring some more psychedelic vibes to the table, sounding somewhere along the lines of Tempesst and Geowulf. Check the EP out for yourself below!

Follow Pale Moon - Facebook | Instagram.

Monday 13 May 2019

LISTEN: Thandii - 'Company'

Thandii are back! Their first release as a duo (following up the likes of Another One and Alkaline when it was a solo project for Jess) Company is the first track to be taken from their forthcoming EP which is due later this year and which the duo wrote, recorded, mixed and produced themselves. With gorgeous synths throughout drawing you in and making it difficult to resist the urge to dance, the track explores the nuances of a failing and monotonous relationship, as Jess asks the rhetorical "Don't you know what I need?" 

Thandii headline The Waiting Room in London on May 15th - grab tickets here.

Follow Thandii - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Saturday 11 May 2019

ALBUM NEWS: Two Door Cinema Club - 'False Alarm'

It still feels slightly mind-boggling to think that Two Door Cinema Club released their superb debut album Tourist History over nine years ago. I don't think that it's an exaggeration for me to credit discovering them and The Wombats at a similar time as marking a shift in the sort of music I was listening to and opening my eyes and ears to the beautiful world of indie rock. A couple of albums later and they've been away working on music for a while, but returned with Talk recently. It's finally time for their new (fourth!) album - False Alarm is due for release 14th June and brand new track Satellite is below. Pre-order the record here.

The band are playing an arena (!) tour later in the year to support the release of the record, with tickets for the shows available here.

3rd October: Motorpoint Arena, Cardiff
4th & 5th Oct: O2 Academy, Glasgow
7th & 8th Oct: O2 Victoria Warehouse, Manchester
10th Oct: Bonus Arena, Hull
11th Oct: The O2, London
13th Oct: Pavilions, Plymouth

Follow Two Door Cinema Club - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Friday 10 May 2019

TRACK PREMIERE: Hazey Jane - 'Lay Low'

Let me introduce (or hopefully re-introduce) you to Hazey Jane. I have a bunch of lovely memories of seeing them live over the last couple of years... running the door for a fun headline Oxford gig, having them play at the Tigmus festival we organised a couple of summers ago, and two wonderful sets at The Alternative Escape in Brighton. A video premiere I did for the band remains one of my most viewed posts of all time. Taking inspiration from the likes of Nick Drake, Joni Mitchell and Ben Howard, their music is driven by gorgeous four-part harmonies, storytelling lyrics and pop hooks. Whether live or otherwise, you can't help but smile listening to these guys. 

It's a joy to be asked to premiere their latest single, Lay Low, which is out today. Calling for the listener to "bury your phone in the soil" and to "put yourself first, put yourself out of range" the track speaks to some modern day anxieties that a lot of us share. The band describe the track as "encouraging the listener to bury their phone and slow down, Lay Low explores ways in which to release modern-day pressures that lead to worry." Take a listen below - and on Spotify.

Hazey Jane celebrate the single release with a headline show at London's Old Blue Last on 15th May - event here.

Follow Hazey Jane online - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Thursday 9 May 2019

WATCH: Jack Savoretti - 'Love Is On The Line'

The fact that it is finally May brings a really exciting concert for me, as I'll be heading to London at the end of the month to catch Jack Savoretti (who happens to be one of my favourite musicians) headline actual Wembley Arena (!!!) The show is the last in a string of UK dates this month, in support of his recent record Singing To Strangers. The record went Silver and charted at number one in its first week of release back in March.

Jack has recently shared a video for current single Love Is On The Line, directed and produced by Emiliano Bechi Gabrielli, and featuring footage from his recent Italian tour. Talking of the track, Jack explains that "the idea was to write over string parts rather than the other way round - melodically, strings can give you the courage to go somewhere vocally you might not otherwise go. They give it gravitas." 

Follow Jack Savoretti - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

LISTEN: Marika Hackman - 'i'm not where you are'

"Ladies and gentlemen hold on to your wigs cause this bish is back." 

And with that short post to social media Marika Hackman returned, bringing glorious synth-laden new track i'm not where you are with her. I'm guilty of (perhaps foolishly) only listening to Marika a little over the past few years, but I caught a really interesting panel on her music at The Great Escape in 2017, just ahead of the release of her last album I'm Not Your Man. Marika was joined by her producer Charlie Andrew (Alt-JSivu), Tim Dellow of Transgressive Records (management and publisher) and her radio plugger Claire Collins of Scream Productions. It was really interesting to hear from the various panellists about the various elements of the album campaign (particularly as I have a massive soft spot for Transgressive!)

In a press statement, Marika describes the new track as being "about breaking up with people, or self-sabotaging relationships, that feeling of not trusting ones emotions because you can't seem to get to the same place as the other person. On the surface it seems like an arrogant 'everybody falls in love with me' kind of song but its actually incredibly lonely, introspective and self deprecating." 

Follow Marika Hackman - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Wednesday 8 May 2019

LISTEN: Benedict Benjamin - 'Truant'

Not that it was ever in doubt... but Truant, the new record from Benedict Benjamin, is a triumph. A sign of a great album, it's incredibly personal for Ben, while remaining relatable. In the way that a piece of literature might reflect the time in which it was written, this record sees Ben detailing the challenges and joys of experiencing parenthood for the first time following the birth of his daughter. His talent as a storyteller is exhibited through an array of lyrical themes, which give an honest account of his experiences of introversion, incompatibility, lack of sleep, family, relationships, heartbreak and love.

Sitting in between slower tracks I Spy and Halo, album singles Ain't EasyTell Me If You're Lonely and The Way You Talk To Waiters provide the more full band sound that Ben has employed for his second album, a departure from his debut Night Songs, though the influence of early sixties music is still very much present. 

Melodically, Culture War is one of my favourite tracks from the record - which was a highlight of a recent live set I saw Ben play in London too. Elsewhere Baby's Crying provides the most obvious comments on Ben's new found parenthood, with lyrics such as "it don't stop because it never does, there's always something new" proving the harsh reality of the situation. A lyrical favourite of mine from the record is the track Alone, a gut-wrenching song positing that "I don't know why I am like this, I have done my best to fight it, sometimes I just need some time to be alone."

Closing the record, Motherfucker (another favourite at the gig recently) provides an amusing but succinct summary of the emotions that run through the record. "I'm a motherfucker baby, my mum's a motherfucker too, you're a motherfucker baby and that's what I like about you. Now we're gonna have a daughter, and we're gonna raise her right, she'll be a motherfucker always cos that's the only way to live a life." Ben describes it as "a song about the core unit of people in my life and how much I love them" and closes the track, and the record, with"you keep me strong, I'll steer you right" - a lyric full of hope. 

Follow Benedict Benjamin - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Tuesday 7 May 2019

WATCH: Cosmo Sheldrake - 'Cuckoo'

Cosmo Sheldrake is a genius - no debate. He shared a couple of new tracks on Friday in honour of International Dawn Chorus Day on Sunday. Dawn Chorus is a gorgeous instrumental track featuring a recording made in Dorset one midsummer morning that Cosmo posits could be "a tune to listen to while waking up." 

The second track is handily entitled Owl Song. Sharing the track online, Cosmo explained that it is "a piece I composed in 2012 in response to a painting of an owl that my girlfriend Flora painted for me. At the time she wasn't sleeping very well so I wrote it as a kind of lullaby. It is composed of recordings of all the British owls: The short-eared owl, long eared owl, little owl, tawny owl, and the barn owl. Of all these birds, the tawny owl and the barn owl are both on the amber list of endangered British Birds." 

As if the new tracks weren't enough of a treat, he headed out on release day to film a performance of the Benjamin Britten song Cuckoo at 5am, with the dawn chorus backing him up! It is a total treat for the ears, but the setting is equally sublime, with the sun breaking through the trees - very much worth a watch! Along with the video, Cosmo shares the fact that Cuckoo populations in the UK have dropped by 50% since 1995, and that they are on the red list of endangered British Birds.

Catch Cosmo at his only UK headline show of the year, London's Oval Space, on July 10th. Tickets available here.

Follow Cosmo Sheldrake - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

LISTEN: Far Caspian - 'Astoria'

I'm quickly realising (via the medium of writing blog posts) that I am very much a fan of a good old hazy pop track. Some of the best of the moment is coming from Leeds trio Far Caspian, with recent singles Conversations and A Dream of You providing perfect samples of this. They're back with brand new single Astoria, the final preview of their upcoming EP The Heights, which is due for release via Dance To The Radio on June 11th.

Discussing the new track, the band's frontman Joel Johnston describes it as "the song on the EP that kind of sums up the feeling we wanted to put across, embracing the good things in your life when things aren't so good." 

"Before we had started writing any of the songs I had already decided that there would be a track with this name. It's a town in Oregon where the Goonies was shot. The Goonies has been my favourite movie since I was no age, and I've always wished I lived in that neighbourhood - this is me trying to emulate what I heard in my head when I pictured the town."

Follow Far Caspian - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Monday 6 May 2019

WATCH: Le Boom & Æ MAK - 'Dancing Bug'

They're a relatively new name to me but I'm loving new track Dancing Bug from Irish electronic duo Le Boom (Christy Leech and Aimie Mallon), co-written alongside fellow Dubliner Æ MAK (Aoife McCann). They've shared the video for the new track, which finds the three of them and an assortment of dancers, adorned in colourful clothes, gliding through the streets of Stoneybatter, Dublin City. Aoife explains that the track is "about falling into your bedroom after a bad day and dancing like fire to your favourite song; to escape the stuff you just had to deal with. That energy taking you off into the other world that you're visualising as you dance."

Also worth mentioning is their recent single Just Want To which I didn't get round to sharing in a post but loved too!

Follow Le Boom - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.
Follow Æ MAK - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

ALBUM NEWS: Christof van der Ven - 'You Were The Place'

I have some wonderful news to share! Christof van der Ven has announced details of his second record You Were The Place, which is due for release on September 6th via Planet Zog Records. The record has been produced and mixed by Christof's Bear's Den bandmate Marcus Hamblett and features instrumentation from a wonderful group of musicians: Tommy HeapJools OwenTommy SheenEmma Gatrill and Andrew Stuart-Buttle.

I started to listen to Christof a little back in 2016 around the release of his Montreal EP, but really fell for his music upon the release of debut album Empty Handed just over a year ago. Ahead of a current period of touring as a member of Bear's Den, he recently released the EP Beneath The Ordinary Load. Truly a gorgeous collection of tracks. The promise of a new record incoming is very exciting news and I'm excited to share the first track, Bravais Arc. 

Christof plays a run of UK and EU tour dates in October to support the release of the record, with shows at The Hope & Ruin in Brighton (7th) and The Lexington in London (8th) - tickets and full dates here.

Follow Christof van der Ven - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Saturday 4 May 2019

LISTEN: Hailaker - 'Hailaker'

As the latest additions to the blog playlist prove, Friday was a fantastic day for new music. There were new records from Vampire Weekend, Benedict Benjamin and Ten Tonnes alongside singles from the likes of Christof van der Ven, Cosmo Sheldrake and Of Monsters & Men. In short - a very good day for new music. I challenge you, however, to find something nestled in your new music playlists that is quite as beautifully crafted as the self-titled debut album from Hailaker. From first listen this record completely stole my heart - take a listen on Spotify or via Bandcamp below.

With founder members Jemima Coulter and Ed Tullett playing as part of his band on the night, my first introduction to Hailaker was when watching Novo Amor headline Union Chapel last year. Tracks from the project were played between sets, and a free download card handed out at the merchandise table. With contributions from Novo Amor, AKA Ali Lacey, on production and instrumentation on the new record, there's a lot of synchronicity between the projects - if you're a fan of one you'll likely adore the other.

Generally though, the Hailaker sound is new. Different. Dare I say... fresh? This is reflected in the name, a made up word, about which Jemima explains that "having a word with no defined meaning means the only association it could have is with the project. That's so freeing because it's completely open, and I think it's led to us feeling infinitely free about what Hailaker is." I absolutely love this.

The result is something truly special. With a lack of self-imposed restrictions on genre, and free from pre-conceptions, each track has a unique appeal. An array of instruments - synths, guitars, flute, saxophone, keys, violin and harp to name a few - create something which is experimental at its heart, and fun to listen to in its unpredictability. It's also worth mentioning that the vast collection of sounds are brought together really well - the production on the record is superb, it never once feels as if there might be too much going on sonically.

Lyrically, the record tackles important issues such as depression, with one of the slower and least heavily layered tracks of the record, Watercolour, opening with the line "Face it, I would sit at home finding places I wouldn't go". Closing track and recent single Not Much sees a narrator struggling with depression second hand, exclaiming in the chorus "it's hard to be around her, I bet it's hard to be down lots." On first listen, a highlight of the record for me was the track Phonetically. It provides a brilliant example of the unpredictability of the record - once you've got used to Jemima's beautifully striking voice taking the lead throughout the record, this is flipped on its head, with Ed taking lead vocals on this one. Other personal highlights are recent singles I Could Be Back and Coma / Smoke which are two of the busiest and loudest tracks on the album.

Working on the record while Jemima was studying for a Maths degree in Bristol and Ed was working with Novo Amor in Cardiff, the album was co-produced by the duo, mostly at Ed's own Oxfordshire studio. Jemima describes the record as "the narrative of mine and Ed's friendship first and foremost, since it meant we went from being strangers to spending weeks writing together [...] there's only a few friends in your life that you'll spend such concentrated time with from the onset, and it's been so amazing for that to be the foundation of our friendship."

Collaboration is a huge part of the fluidity of the project, and another collaborator is Mike Roth, an artist from Portland, Oregon. During the album's creation, Ed introduced Jemima to his artwork; collages filled with scraps of images, letters, cuttings and ephemera. The artwork is reflective of the lack of boundaries within the project. The duo see his artwork as equally important to the music within the project - Ed explains that "what Mike does is so fascinating and beautiful, this incredibly intriguing mix of things that otherwise shouldn't be", while Jemima adds that his "use of recycled materials means his artwork is so consistent and also relevant, kind of intrinsically profound."

If you missed it, check out the recent Hailaker video for Not Much in a blog post here.

Follow Hailaker - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Thursday 2 May 2019

LISTEN: Rhys Lewis - 'In Between Minds'

For a couple of years now I've been in a near constant state of admiration for singer-songwriter Rhys Lewis. Shortly after discovering his music I passed up the opportunity to see him playing a hometown show in Oxford in favour of being sensible and writing an essay - a foolish mistake! With a gift for storytelling he consistently bares all in his tracks, which are often explorations of his own experiences (usually those of the romantic kind) - they're relatable and mirror thoughts and experiences that a lot of us have. His honesty is endearing and has earned him a really faithful group of fans consistently selling out his shows, as well as support from the likes of BBC Introducing

Almost a year after he released the Bad Timing EP Rhys is back with In Between Minds. It's a gorgeous collection of tracks, featuring recent singles Hold on to HappinessBetter Than Today and End Like This alongside new tracks Lonely As Love and Things You Can't Change. You can and most definitely should check it out here - the closing track is above, it's a really heartwarming number centring around the premise that "I love you for you babe, for all the things you can't change." 

Talking about the EP, Rhys explains "We're living in a weird time where we're all anxious. Everyone has their own thought and fears, but it's probably the same thing unifying them, and even though that divides us it should unite us and bring us together. Each track on the EP has helped me distill and better understand some of the heavier emotions and anxieties that had been sitting at the back of my mind for the best part of a year [...] writing songs has become a way for me to draw a line in the sand and be at peace with things whenever things get confused in my own head."

If you missed Rhys' London headline show last night, you can catch him at Bushstock Festival in June alongside a wonderful line-up!

Follow Rhys Lewis - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Wednesday 1 May 2019

LISTEN: Winnie Raeder - 'Don't You Dare'

Following on from yesterday's post on the recent Lucy Rose record, here is another artist with a stripped back track and some powerfully intimate vocals. Don't You Dare is the recent debut single from 23 year old London-based (but Denmark born and raised) singer-songwriter Winnie Raeder. With the first single in the bag, it's looking to be an exciting year, with her first headline show at the gorgeous St Pancras Old Church lined up for 3rd June (tickets) and a slot at Bushstock Festival (who just announced a ton of line-up additions including the likes of Matt Corby and Banfi) booked in for 15th June!

Talking about the track, Winnie explains that "its about someone leaving you and the denial you feel when it happens - the utter desperation you feel at not wanting to accept that person is leaving or has gone forever. For the production it was a very conscious choice to make it as simple as possible. Thinking of the story and what's being said, the overall sense is one of numbing. When you feel numbed, it feels like everything stops. Silence. Space. I wanted to create that feeling sonically."

If you like what you're hearing - check out this video of Winnie performing Don't You Dare and Now I Understand for Mahogany Sessions here.

Follow Winnie Raeder - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.